Sex, Standards, and SoulCalibur V
Not long ago, an image popped up on the Facebook page for SoulCalibur V. It was a new advertisement for the game, using two of the most recognizable characters from the roster: Ivy’s breasts.
Now, it’s no big surprise that NAMCO Bandai would choose to market the game this way. Sex sells, after all, and Ivy is already sort of a poster girl for outrageous female proportions in fighting games (second only to Mai Shiranui from King of Fighters.) So if NAMCO Bandai were going to use sex to sell the game (the text across Ivy’s breasts reads “go big or go home”) this would be the way to do it. Sure, there was a little bit of scandal surrounding the ad—which was to be expected—but, overall, it wasn’t too horribly bad. In fact, the ad is still up on SoulCalibur’s Facebook page (uploaded by a fan) and, at the time of this writing, it has a mere three likes and one lone comment.
Then a second ad showed up on the Facebook page that apparently pushed our sensibilities too far. The ad swaps out Ivy for Voldo, and, instead of focusing on a gigantic pair of breasts, it focuses on Voldo’s purple strap-on codpiece. The text across Voldo’s midsection translates to “curious?” I personally found this advertisement hilarious. It allowed NAMCO Bandai to be an equal opportunity objectifier, and, if anything, it actually reduced the impact that the Ivy ad had by satirizing it using the game’s most off-the-wall male character. In a way, I saw it as a careful and subversive way to bring our objectification of the female body into light.
Unfortunately, the general public didn’t share these sentiments. Scandal had apparently erupted over the Voldo ad. It was called “objectionable” and “lude,” and it wasn’t long before the ad was taken off the SoulCalibur V Facebook page.
Now here is the funny part: That ad wasn’t even real. It was a fan creation that was meant to turn the original SoulCalibur V ad on its head. The crotch shot used was actually one of Voldo’s SoulCalibur IV model. It’s worth it to note that when SoulCalibur IV came out, no one objected to this model. Perhaps people are ok with purple codpieces as long as they are viewed from a distance?
What’s interesting about this series of events is what it reveals about us as a society. When we were under the mistaken impression that the ad was created by NAMCO Bandai, people were incredibly upset. However, from a certain perspective, Voldo is more covered than Ivy is. I mean, all of his naughty bits are completely covered. Meanwhile, the ad that was actually created by NAMCO Bandai has Ivy’s breasts practically falling out of her fur top. Yet this is the advertisement that we were okay with. This seems to suggest that we’re all comfortable with objectifying the female body, but find similar male objectification highly offensive. That’s a double standard if I ever heard one.
Now, I’m not saying that NAMCO Bandai pulled the Voldo ad because of the outrage. In fact, they probably pulled the ad because they didn’t necessarily want to be associated with the unsolicited work of a fan. When you consider the fact that the text at the bottom had the official NAMCO logo on it, you could imagine the legal trouble this could potentially cause if left unchecked. Neither of the ads is officially posted by NAMCO Bandai at this point, though both of them have been re-uploaded to the SoulCalibur Facebook page by fans.
Moreover, neither of these images is a particularly good advertisement for the game. There are no screenshots, no gameplay details, no mention of the new mechanics—nothing but scantily clad bodies. Both advertisements are inherently meaningless as far as the game itself goes. Sure, sex sells, but SoulCalibur has a pretty rabid fan base right now that will probably buy the game no matter what, and its new mechanics are more than enough to appeal to the rest of the fighting game crowd. What sort of gamer could either of these ads possibly draw in?
Actually, scratch that. I think we all know what sort of gamer this sort of ad would draw in. The better question is, will drawing in these gamers ultimately be worth the scandal?
What do you think? Was the fake Voldo ad objectionable? What about the original Ivy ad? Is this just an irrational double standard, or is there some truly valid reason to be offended here?
Angelo M. D’Argenio
Date: January 16, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central. This week’s is also purely a work of fiction*